How to Translate: 5 Key Tips for Translating

Did you know in some countries, English accounts for around 80% of all translations? As English takes hold as a global language, this figure is only going to grow. But do you know how to perform the perfect translation?

Anyone who speaks a language can translate, but doing it well is an art. Read on as we discuss five must-know tips on how to translate. 

1. Do a Review Before Starting

Before you start translating, do a quick review of all the documents you need. Go over the text, make notes, and any other files you have been given. Finally, check the client’s notes and see what specific instructions they have provided you with.

By doing this, you will cut down the number of revisions that may be needed later. It helps you focus on the specific needs of the person who has commissioned the task. 

2. Cut Out Jokes

Jokes and humor are very particular, not just to languages, but even to certain places and dialects. When you translate them, the joke very often fails to transfer. It can leave a reader feeling confused or worse, offended. 

Speak with the person who has commissioned the translation and advise cutting jokes altogether. If they really need them in, then get someone who understands the language on a native level to check the jokes work in the context. Translation services such as can assist. 

3. Know Specific Terminology for the Translation Area

Specific industries and sectors have very detailed terminology. For example, there is lots of scientific and medical language a native speaker may not know unless they had trained in that field. As these words will probably be different in another language, it pays to know them in your native tongue. 

If the area of translation is way outside your area of expertise, then do not be afraid to decline it. Pass it on to someone else or recommend a fellow translator with a related background. 

4. Align Your Vocabulary

When translating, not all facets of vocabulary translate into legible terms in another language. This may be the case even if you think they are fairly innocuous and universal. This is why it helps to use the same vocabulary and terms across the board. 

For example, if you are talking about a car, you may also have the terms motor, saloon, and set of wheels as similar terms. However, the translating language may not have the context to know that motor and set of wheels are colloquial terms for a car. Saloon may translate as a horse-drawn carriage, adding to the confusion. 

5. Check Against the Source

When finished, check the document against the source material. This will let you have a final look for any missing text or quality issues before handing it over. 

How to Translate

Now you know how to translate, keep on going! The more you practice, the better you will get. Once you use our tips and develop a process, you will soon become an expert translator. 

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